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US panel probing Jan. 6 riot to hold former Trump aide in criminal contempt

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Steve Bannon (R) served as the White House's chief strategist in the administration of former US President Donald Trump. (Getty Images)

A US congressional committee probing the Jan. 6 deadly insurrection at the US Capitol is set to vote on recommending criminal contempt charges against a former White House official.

Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the panel, has said the committee would vote next week to recommend charges against Steve Bannon, a former investment banker who served as the White House's chief strategist in the administration of former US President Donald Trump.

Bannon is reported to have refused to comply with the panel’s subpoena on Thursday.

“Bannon has declined to cooperate with the select committee and is instead hiding behind the former President's insufficient, blanket, and vague statements regarding privileges he has purported to invoke," Thompson, a Democrat, said in a statement on Thursday.

If the House goes ahead to pursue the contempt charges against Bannon, the Justice Department will ultimately decide whether to prosecute him or not, according to reports.

Bannon was scheduled to appear before the committee on Thursday. The committee had demanded documents and testimony from him, as he was believed to be touch with Trump ahead of the Jan 6. riot.

However, a day before the deposition, Bannon's lawyer wrote in a letter that his client will not provide testimony or documents until the committee reaches an agreement with Trump over executive privilege or a court weighs in on the matter.

“We reject his position entirely,” Thompson said in his statement, in response to remarks made by Bannon’s lawyer. “The select committee will not tolerate defiance of our subpoenas, so we must move forward with proceedings to refer Bannon for criminal contempt.”

With the House committee officially announcing its decision to go forward with criminal contempt against Bannon, the next step is a business meeting to be held on Tuesday.

In the business meeting, the committee will take up a contempt report, which lays out the efforts the committee made to get a witness to comply with the subpoena, and the failure to do so.

The deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 by Trump supporters left five people dead and more than 100 police officers wounded.

Days before the incident, Bannon was reportedly on the phone with Trump, urging the President to make January 6 a sort of final stand in his war on (nonexistent) voter fraud, according to CNN.

Interestingly, Trump had fired Bannon, who was serving as his chief political adviser, back in August 2017.

Bannon was among four of the closest allies of Trump to be issued subpoenas by a select committee of the US House of Representatives investigating the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection last month.

The subpoenas were also sent to Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former White House deputy chief of staff for communications Daniel Scavino and ex-defense department official Kashyap Patel.

The panel claimed the four men have knowledge of important details related to the events of Jan. 6.

In a letter to Bannon last month, Thompson raised details regarding his conversations with Trump before Jan. 6 and a meeting with Trump allies the night before at the Willard Hotel, located near the White House.

Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich in a statement had claimed that the “Communist-style” House committee’s subpoenas were “over-broad and lacking merit.”

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